By Jonathan Richmond
Special to the Sun
LOWELL -- The Boston Symphony Orchestra's Community Chamber Concerts reach out to people who wouldn't otherwise attend a BSO concert because of distance or cost, and Sunday afternoon's all-brass program at Lowell High School was clearly designed with an educational mission in mind.
The five BSO members on stage talked about their music as well as playing it, and developed a keen rapport with the audience.
Bach's Contrapunctus No. I and IX got the afternoon off to a slow start, and the third piece, Morgenmusik from Ploner Musiktag by Hindemith had its moments of lost clarity, too.
Albinoni's Sonata, Op. 6, No. 11, Concerto San Marco, was a delight, however, the interplay of musical voices in the Allegro especially alluring. Trumpeter Michael Martin's own work, Cycle Miniature, was complex as well as powerfully rhythmic and played with great skill. Arnold's Brass Quintet No. 1, Op. 73, ended the afternoon with a display of color and fire.
A couple of student performances preceded the BSO players: middle-schooler Alisa Crueger-Cain was striking in her bold solo in the Andante-Allegro from the Ropartz Trumpet Concerto.
It was an engaging and educational afternoon, and a welcome event some 10 years since the previous BSO players' visit to Lowell. Surprisingly, for a concert at Lowell High, the audience was predominantly older. Only a handful of students were present. Seven of them were sitting together and having a good time.
"Loud and clear!" John Lanier Jr. said.
"Extraordinary," said Ethan Baez who plays trombone. His sister, student clarinetist Cassandra Baez, said it was "important" that the BSO come to Lowell.
Those who attended the afternoon concert loved it and Sharon Clark, who directs the school's Fine Arts program, said there had been plenty of outreach with announcements on school TV shown during advisory sessions and posters in the cafeteria.
In noting the sparse student attendance, Lowell High School Band Director John McGovern pointed to students' other weekend commitments, including family obligations.